International Liaison and Communication MA
Alternative attendance modes for this course
Courses start in September, unless otherwise stated
View course-specific entry requirements
You will normally be a graduate or have equivalent professional status. You must offer two languages, including English; you must be an habitual user or fluent in one language, and be capable of listening, speaking and reading in the other language to at least Council of Europe Level B2/C1. You must also demonstrate valid reasons for wishing to study the course, understanding of the nature and demands of the course and the conceptual and intellectual foundations needed to study at postgraduate level, and you may be invited to an interview. If English is not your first language, you will need an IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent). The University offers pre-sessional summer courses if you need to improve your English before starting your course.
This is a dynamic, pioneering interdisciplinary Masters course which meets the global demand for greater professionalism in interpersonal and inter-institutional bilingual communication. The course will focus on enhancing your personal skills as a communicator and facilitator of communication. This can be as an advocate, as a mediator, communication strategist, intermediary or communication facilitator. Firmly grounded on the latest international communications theories and using real life simulations, you will learn to locate and analyse resources, pre-empt communications challenges and develop strategies to overcome obstacles to successful interaction.
The course will enrich your knowledge and application of the key paradigms of international communication, information handling and presentation in a range of contexts from the field of public diplomacy to international media, intelligence, business and international NGOs. It also enhances your competencies in handling information across and between languages and cultures, in various professional settings. You will have the training and preparation to make significant contributions in your chosen profession.
Course applicants typically come from fields such as language studies, translation and interpreting, social work, teaching, journalism and other areas of the media as well as from public office. However, the course will prove invaluable to anyone with high-level bilingual competence and experience in mediation between peoples from different cultural backgrounds.
By the end of the course you will be able to use the knowledge gained through a detailed study of diplomatic, intelligence and policy questions, and combine this with a high level of linguistic competence. This will enhance your ability as a presenter of information and as a mediator between communities. The course is designed to help you develop your professional specialism and enhance your skills within an appropriate conceptual framework.
The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the full course document.
This compulsory part of the course will help you to develop an understanding of the major components of research methodology: locating and using available research sources, (these will include, inter-alia, general and specialised libraries, reference works, indices and bibliographies, abstract services, and online databases; recording information and material collected; analysing data for reliability, comprehensiveness, bias and factuality; and finally assimilating material gathered into a dissertation.
As a result, you will have established research skills such as locating and using available research sources and being able efficiently to analyse the material that you have collected. For your dissertation you will be required to synthesise the skills, factual knowledge, methods and perspectives that you have acquired. You will also need to provide evidence of independent enquiry and a creative approach. Thus the Dissertation should accurately reflect both your personal development and the educational effectiveness of the course.
The accelerating process of globalisation, and the growing international flow of information, goods and people, have changed the way individuals, institutions, businesses and governments operate in the international arena. They have also highlighted the demand for bilingual professionals who can meet the needs of an increasingly transnational work environment.
This module examines the key theories of international communication, language and culture and provides an understanding of the political, economic, cultural and ideological dimensions of communication in a global context. It explores issues such as global media corporations, international flow of information, public diplomacy, and the role of NGOs. It focuses on developing language and communication skills applicable to a variety of bilingual professional settings.
Particular attention is given to the impact of cultural differences on multicultural and transnational encounters.
The need for effective communication in a global world is increasingly apparent. Effective communication is important not only for the individual but for those whose role is to facilitate interaction between representatives of professional and governmental and non- governmental organisations where people do not share the same language, culture or systems.
This module considers current theories of information processing, communication and interpretation and places them in a professional environment. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of the liaison official as advocate and facilitator, the link between cultures, the semiotic value of language, and its use as a tool of power. Various negotiation strategies are examined with reference to different cultures. Techniques for equal effective communication in two or more languages are examined and put into practice.
Research Project – Bi-Lingual Presentation
It is widely understood that a liaison professional needs to be able to handle information equally in two or more languages. For effective communication to exist, the liaison professional has to operate with the same degree of fluency, accuracy and sensitivity to linguistic register, regardless of language. The bilingual presentation provides training in presentation techniques and styles, considers culturally appropriate modes of discourse, and gives practice in the skill of parcelling information in the context of formal delivery. The content matter of the course is of topical, professional and personal interest and is provided in part from the varying backgrounds of the participants.
Option A Modules
FOREIGN POLICY ANALYSIS
The module examines the various facets of the dynamics of foreign policy. It explores its various actors and factors in a rapidly changing international environment. Emphasis is placed on equipping participants to develop an appreciation of the complexities of the international environment, to approach foreign policy issues analytically and critically, to demonstrate competence in a range of transferable skills, including communication (verbal and written), independent study skills and the ability to work in a team. Upon the completion of the module, you are expected to be able to analyse, assess and understand the factors that influence contemporary foreign policies, their communication and implementation strategies.
INFORMATION AND MEDIA STUDIES
The mass media have assumed a position of influence in the field of international relations, which the modern diplomat can ignore only at his/her peril. Information and press officers should be familiar with the media institutions of their host country; they should also understand how the media of any country inter-relate with other institutions of the body politic.
The module will begin with an introductory survey of the British media, and a comparison with other media systems. The major theoretical issues in this field, notably the media and political control, the social impact of the media, the significance of new communication technologies and the possible distinctive role of the media in developing countries, will then be analysed at some length. Since this option is intended mainly for information officers and press attachés as well as those involved
in public relations, it aims to provide both such expressly practical skills as holding press conferences, preparing press communiqués, and dealing with the local media, and also those aspects of communication theory of particular relevance, such as theories of persuasion and social change. Lectures will be supplemented with visits and case studies.
The module covers key theories and principles governing intercultural communication. It deals with the impact of cultural diversity on diplomacy and relations in the international community, an understanding of which enables you to develop your skills and competencies (cultural fluency) to be better prepared to live harmoniously and work effectively overseas. It provides you with coping strategies and models based on the practical application of intercultural communication theories and research by the main cultural 'gurus'.
Option B Modules
EUROPEAN UNION STUDIES
The option is designed to serve the needs of liaison officers and other practitioners or aspiring practitioners in the private and public sector whose work directly or indirectly necessitates an informed understanding of the European Union activity and its information and communication strategies. The module goes beyond analysing European Union institutions and processes, enabling you to understand and evaluate information and communication flows associated with the major commercial, business, financial, legal and political activities of the European Union.
INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY
Intelligence and security has always been very important for the stability of states, institutions and organisations and is becoming increasingly so for individuals. It has also been important in the formulation of foreign policy. It is also now a factor in international commercial decision making and latterly in the way individuals interact with the wider world. New challenges, which faced the international community since the end of the geopolitical blocks of the Cold War and the onset of the information age (organised crime, trafficking, money laundering, political terrorism, cyberterrorism, eco-terrorism, use of social media in activism), have highlighted the need for developing new skills in the field. They have also thrown into sharp relief the tension between the need for greater scrutiny, greater security and time greater transparency and accountability.
The module will examine differing concepts of intelligence, the process of gathering intelligence and the uses to which it can be put. You will consider this at a national level and within the contexts of international co- operation, defence and commerce, and look at implications for the individual. You will also gain first hand experience, through simulations, of data mining and the creation of analytical reports in real time.
Course graduates have gained success in communications-related positions in NGOs, diplomatic missions, international divisions of business and international organisations, as well as achieving a step-change in their original professions.
You are normally required to have a good first degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. Mature applicants with no formal qualifications but with appropriate work experience will also be considered. You need to be fluent to advanced level (C1 as defined by the CEFR) in at least two languages. Although not an absolute entry requirement, to succeed well on the course you need be up to date with world events and the different interpretations put on them by various stakeholders.
Additional costs information
To check what your tuition fees cover and what you may need to pay for separately, see our What tuition fees cover page.
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Sarah Sandsted went on to become the Director of REBUILD.
“The MA programme provided me with the academic framework for international communication theory that upholds the importance of diplomacy and mutual understanding…the knowledge I gained from my lecturers at Westminster was invaluable”.
Being already involved in humanitarian activities in post-earthquake Haiti, Sarah was looking to gain a higher degree of knowledge and skill which could take her career to a different level.
She moved to London from Washington in pursuit of a new challenge and she now says that: “In all sincerity, I don't believe I would have arrived at this place in my life and career if it were not for the knowledge and practice I gained with the MA in International Liaison and Communication…the MA in International Liaison and Communication has made me a better human being.”
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